What Do You Do With Unexpected Time Off?

What do you do with unexpected time off? You know, a day when you don’t have any commitments and the hours are like a gift…a day like I was given yesterday.Morning Cup of Tea

It was a dark and stormy morning (forgive me, I am a writer, you know) when my cell phone rang and the Pastor told me not to come in to work. There I stood in the bathroom with my blow dryer in hand, in final preparations to walk out the door. I couldn’t quite grasp the fact that I was being given a free day at home. A day when the thunder rolled, the lightning flashed and the rain was pouring down. After finishing our conversation, I changed out of my work clothes, all the time feeling a bit guilty for having this unexpected time off work.

What to do? I fixed a second cup of tea and carried it down to my office. In my emails I had notifications that all my books were available in the Amazon bookstore. (Yes, another change of mind!) So I zapped over to my website and added a page for my books.

With some anticipated changes coming, I decided to work on my budget next. Have you ever delved so deeply into your budget that you begin to feel like you are in a whirlpool being sucked into a void? Yes, that’s the feeling. But after some prayerful time, I was comfortable with the result. But what would I do now?

I had been a stay at home retired person for six and a half years before I took the part-time job at our church, so I should be used to this. Amazing how our perspective changes when our hours are rearranged!

I decided to place an order for a few summer clothes. Nothing major, just some lightweight slacks, capris, and tops. Just a few, but enough to keep me from looking like a bag lady when I go out. By now the rain had diminished to a light drizzle, so I grabbed my purse and headed to the grocery store. What a treat! I forgot how nice it was to go to the store when it wasn’t crowded! Bought a few weeks groceries for less than $65.00. Major coup!

When I got into the car, I looked at my phone and saw the noises I heard had been two phone calls coming in. Didn’t recognize the number, but the voicemail gave me the answer. Two of my male friends from church were in front of my house waiting to look at my lawnmower which wouldn’t start. Really? On a rainy day like this? But I was overjoyed at their generosity. Of course, they had already left my house and headed to the church to fix a problem toilet, but when they were finished, they’d head back over.

And so they did! After emptying the old gas out, cleaning the spark plug, and still not having any luck, I handed them some starter fluid. A quick squirt in the carburetor and it fired up. I guess I’ll have to make sure to get new gas and add cleaner to it if I want to keep it running good from year to year. It’s amazing the things a gal can learn when she loses the man who took care of everything like that.

I never cease to be in awe of what God can do. Having church family to help out in all kinds of situations, especially when you are a widow, is a huge blessing. God is good!

I finished the afternoon by making a dinner which was one of my hubby’s favorite…our brand of goulash. Yummy!

And that, dear readers, is what I did with my unexpected time off yesterday. Thanks for stopping by and having tea with me today.


When God Rearranges Your To-Do List

Cup of TeaEver had God rearrange your to-do list?

As I sip my cup of tea, I’m thinking back to last Wednesday and remembering how blessed I was at the end of the day. Wednesday is prayer circle day at church and I participate knowing that phone calls are usually handled by our receptionist.

However, this day, our receptionist couldn’t make it in. Also, the only two people who were participating in the circle were the Pastor and me. We were just getting ready to pray when a member who had recently lost his wife came into the Narthex area where we were seated. He came to bring something to the Pastor, but I could see he needed to just have someone to talk with.

He was hurting and just needed to talk about his beloved, his loneliness, and some pictures he’d found. We chatted for a few minutes, and I held his hands and let him talk, occasionally giving a word of encouragement and hope.

After he left, we settled back to begin our prayer, when the phone rang. I hurried to answer it and was thrilled to hear the voice of a dear friend and member who is battling a rare form of leukemia. She had called to get some information which I needed to look up for her, but we chatted for a few minutes first and then I asked if she’d like to talk to the Pastor. While they talked, I gathered the information and went back to the Narthex to wait. But the second line of the phone rang.

Yes, God rearranges when we least expect it!

I hurried to get that call and it was another dear parishioner who was in a nursing home undergoing dialysis. She wanted to thank everyone at church for the cards, phone calls, visits, and gifts, and especially for the prayer shawl Pastor had delivered. It was wonderful to talk with her and offer words of hope and caring.

Pastor and I had a few minutes to pray about the concerns of the members that were turned in on Sunday, but it was time to get back to work.

However, two more church members came in seeking assistance. They had come in to discuss some issues they were having and while listening I realized how they trusted God despite their plight, which now included being homeless. When they were finished talking with Pastor, I left with them and filled their gas tank to help them out.

When I returned, Pastor had left for her lunch appointment.

Though I didn’t accomplish a lot of things on my to-do list that day, my heart was blessed because God’s plans were much better than mine. These are the days when I really love working as a church secretary. The days when God rearranges my to-do list!


Box of Memories on A Winter Day

Morning Cup of TeaAs I sip my morning cup of tea, I want to tell you about a box I have. It’s just a small, colorful box with a label of “Our Family,” and filled with pictures.

A few days ago, I pulled it from the shelf because I was looking for something specific…those old pictures taken in the house I’m writing about on Fridays.

For the next hour or so, I was swept away as if I’d stepped into a time machine. There were Christmases past, animals who have gone to rainbow bridge, silly hairstyles and clothes, vacations, candid shots, birthdays and weddings. Memories played through my mind, bringing smiles, and I remembered each moment of time when the pictures were taken.

I realize technology has replaced the old way of taking pictures and having film developed. It’s very convenient to pull out a phone and take a picture. We then upload them to share on Facebook, occasionally print one out to put in a scrapbook, but we are missing something vital here.

My children don’t have boxes of pictures to pull out and recapture moments in their children’s lives. They are mostly stored on a phone and deleted to make room for new ones! We are losing the ability to share our family with future generations.

In many ways, we are becoming a people unconcerned with family values, the community of family, and the desire to pass on memories through pictures. It’s a lost art. And it saddens me.

Pictures capture moments of happiness, moments to look back upon with joy. We should all have at least one colorful box of memories to look through on a day when life is not so busy, when children are grown and one is all alone. A box to be treasured and passed on to the next generation. It’s more than a history book, it’s life at it’s best.


Thorns and Tears

Love for the new yearThorns today brought me to tears!

Not in the way you’d expect. I didn’t physically have a thorn prick me. Here’s what happened.

We are beginning work on our Stations of the Cross exhibit for Good Friday. I volunteered to help out on the committee, but couldn’t make it to the meeting last night.

Today, Pastor came in with a bag and she took out three broken off stems with thorns over an inch long attached! She showed me these were going to be on one of the tables along with a smaller replica of the spikes used to nail Jesus to the cross. Just looking at those thorns made my heart plummet. This is what the crown was made of that was placed on Jesus’ head. (shudder)

Immediately I began to see the vivid images of “The Passion of The Christ.”

Pastor asked me if I wanted one of the stems and I quickly said, “No!” I began to tear up.

After she left my office, the tears streamed down my face. I dropped my head as I once again felt the shame of all the pain He suffered for me. All I could say was, “I’m so sorry, Jesus.”

His suffering is beyond my comprehension. We have pain medications, and if we have surgery, we are put to sleep. But Jesus had nothing at all to relieve the pain He suffered. He was innocent, yet He endured something so horrific and terrible to save us!

How easy to forget and to take our lives for granted. We accept God’s promise that we’ll have eternal life. We accept God’s mercy and grace and yet, how often do we really think about the price Jesus paid so that we could have these things?

I saw the thorns. I saw in my mind His bloodied face. I saw Him stumbling along, carrying the very cross He would hang upon to die. I’m humbled. I’m sad. I’m ashamed.

Dear Lord, Thank you for loving me so much. Amen.

God Answered My Cry for Healing

Cup of TeaLet me tell you about how God answered my prayer for healing Sunday night.

Every Sunday after church, a friend and I meet for a late lunch. This past Sunday we met at Cracker Barrel. Normally, I order a salad, but this day I was super hungry and couldn’t stop thinking about how good a country fried steak would taste. I hadn’t eaten one in about six years and decided to treat myself this one time.

Wrong thing to do! The deep fried and high carb meal was a very bad choice. As the day went on, my stomach grew fuller and fuller. I was so bloated and miserable I didn’t want any dinner. The food remained in my stomach and wasn’t digesting at all.

By the time I settled in bed, I was suffering severely with gas, heartburn, and acid reflux. I stumbled to the bathroom only to remember I had taken my last Alka Seltzer some time ago as well as my Maalox. I had nothing at all to relieve the discomfort.

I felt sicker and sicker and longed for my hubby to be here to give me a hug and take care of me. Living alone when you’re sick is the worst.

But I wasn’t really alone. I knew Jesus was with me. I began to pray to him to help me. I asked Him to relieve the misery and allow me to sleep. God is always there and He listens to all prayers. He’s been so good to me and I can’t imagine what life would be without Him. He’s my constant companion in good and bad, my confidante, my guide, and a wonderful listener. He’s also a healer. I trusted Him.

Not being able to sleep, I fluffed my two pillows and turned on Netflix to watch an episode of “When Calls the Heart”. Losing myself in the heartwarming episode, I lay still and my mind forgot all about my misery. When the show was over forty minutes later, I realized all my discomfort was gone! No more bloated stomach, no more heartburn, no more acid reflux! Immediately I gave thanks for the answered prayer!

Never doubt God can answer your prayers. He cares about us and if we trust Him and believe in Him, He can and will work miracles. He is in the healing business! Don’t be afraid to ask Him for help when you need it. And never forget to thank Him when He answers.

Jesus isn’t just a rainy day friend to remember only when things get bad. Having a relationship with Him can change your life. I spend my day in conversation with Him, sometimes silently, sometimes out loud. I am never alone.

Lifting my cup of tea and wishing you a sweet day, friend.